By Sarp Ozer
ANKARA (AA) – The Turkish defense minister on Friday announced the completion of the construction of the Turkish-Russian joint monitoring center in Upper Karabakh, saying it will become operational as of tomorrow.
Minister Hulusi Akar told Anadolu Agency that he has discussed matters of defense and security with his Azerbaijani counterpart Zakir Hasanov over the phone.
Akar recalled a memorandum of understanding to set up a joint center to monitor the peace deal on Azerbaijani territories liberated from Armenia's occupation was signed with his Russian counterpart Sergey Shoygu on Nov. 11 2020.
"The works on establishing the Joint Center has been completed. The Joint Center, where Turkish and Russian soldiers are to operate, will start its activities tomorrow," he said.
Noting that the latest developments were discussed with Hasanov, Akar said: "We believe that the joint center, where one general and 38 of our staff are to operate, will make great contributions to the continuity of the cease-fire and to ensuring peace and stability in the region."
Akar vowed to continue to defend the rights of Azerbaijani people, and said: "We [Turkey] have sided with our Azerbaijani brothers/sisters in line with the concept of one nation and two states, and we will continue to do so."
– Liberation of Karabakh
Relations between the former Soviet republics of Armenia and Azerbaijan have been tense since 1991, when the Armenian military occupied Nagorno-Karabakh, internationally recognized as an Azerbaijani territory, and seven adjacent regions.
When new clashes erupted on Sept. 27, 2020, the Armenian army launched attacks on civilians and Azerbaijani forces and violated several humanitarian cease-fire agreements.
During the 44-day conflict, Azerbaijan liberated several cities and nearly 300 settlements and villages from the nearly three-decade-long occupation.
Despite the Nov. 10 deal ending the conflict, the Armenian army several times violated the agreement and martyred several Azerbaijani soldiers and a civilian, according to the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry.
The truce is seen as a victory for Azerbaijan and a defeat for Armenia, whose armed forces have been withdrawing in line with the agreement.
*Writing and contributions by Merve Aydogan